Hello, my name is Ford Harris and I am originally from Oklahoma City. My interest in film started in middle-school when I asked my best friend if he had a video camera. It seemed like a random thought at first, but it felt like something was pulling me toward an important goal. At that time, it was just messing around with a camera and having a good time directing ten minute horror films with my friends. Then my interest grew, and in high school, I wrote a few short stories and feature-length screenplays in my free time. After that, I moved out to California to get an education in screenwriting. I spent a year at Santa Monica College before transferring to Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television. It was a great experience, and I met a lot of great people.
Now, I am more focused on taking what I’ve learned from college to create insightful stories, as well as complex and compelling characters. Most of that inspiration comes from reading a lot of literature and philosophy, and in particular, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The first time I read Dostoyevsky was in my senior year English class in high school. We read Crime and Punishment.
I was immediately drawn into the suspense of the story, as well as the existential journey and internal conflict of the main character, Raskolnikov. From that point on, I wanted to read more 19th century Russian literature and more philosophical fiction.
As a former student who is interested in both film and literature, I have wondered what it would be like to see an adaptation of a novel that is considered great. Particularly, I have always wondered what it would be like to see a book to movie adaptation of Dostoevsky, especially to learn about what goes on behind-the-scenes. That is why it is so great to be a part of Vitaly Sumin‘s team to help promote Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes from the New World.
Because of my interest in Dostoevsky, I felt compelled to write a book to movie adaptation of one of his novels. In my adaptation class (Spring, 2014) at Loyola Marymount University, our final project was to write an ACT one adaptation of any public domain novel of our choosing. I chose The Idiot because it has a special place in my heart. It is perhaps my favorite novel because of the extraordinary characteristics of the protagonist, Prince Myshkin.
For my book to movie adaptation, I wanted to stay true to the time and place of the story and the quixotic nature of the main character. The most important aspect for me was to accentuate the absurdity of an unruly world where the only supposed source of light and empathy was the Prince. He is often described as “perfection” because of how he treats people with kindness and compassion, even though he is not treated the same way.
Perhaps the most challenging part of this book to movie adaptation project was figuring out how to solve the problem of taking a 600 plus page story and turning it into a 120 minute movie. Obviously, the project was to write ACT one of the actual script, but I did write an outline to help me with the structure and beats of the story. All and all, I think it turned out well. It was a fun experience to be able to share my ideas with the class, and it was great to make improvements based on everyone’s feedback.
In my next blog, I will guide you through several places in St. Petersburg that are based on the locations described in the text of The Idiot.